By Paul Wanecski
The NFL draft is on the horizon and teams are essentially finished with this portion of the free agency period. Most of your veterans who are healthy have found new teams. The rest of the list will find a home once the draft has completed. This article was originally posted on Hashtagsports.net March 11th, 2014 and as you will see, most of the top Safeties have been signed. This leaves only a few options still on the open market.
Stevie Brown, ranked at the 99th best player on NFL.com's list of top 101 players going into the offseason is still without a home. He is a risk-taking play-making safety. His is coming from the Giants, who also lost Antrel Rolle, so it is possible that if the Giants don't grab a safety early that he could be brought back to New York now that all the big contracts have been signed by other players.
LaRon Landry, who will be suspended if on an NFL roster at the start of the season, is currently without a home. Previously with the Jets, it would be a surprise to see a team invest anything in Landry with him assured to miss the start of the season. He does have familiarity with Rex Ryan, but that promises nothing. PED suspensions are typically a sign of a player who is struggling to stay healthy.
Speaking of Landry's, the brother to LaRon is Dawan Landry, who replaced his brother in the secondary for the Jets in 2013. Despite having one of his best seasons with Ryan in 2014, he has 9 seasons into his career and will not be given any offer longer that 3 years. He is not a player who will sit and wait for the ball in coverage, rarely jumping routes and not taking chances. Buffalo has brought him in for a workout, but again, any pre-draft signings tip the organizations hand come draft day. Nysportsbiz wrote a great article about why the Bills should sign Dawan, which you can read here HERE
Jim Leonhard (pause for dramatic effect) has retired. Don't worry.
Bernard Pollard was injured at the end of last season, tearing his ACL. While any player coming off a reconstructive knee injury is a risk, Pollard's age comes into play as he is 30 years old. He is known for being in-the-box type player and has destroyed running backs in the hole for nearly a decade. He would present the easiest transition for the Bills from Da'Norris Searcy. Pollard was asked to be released since the Titans had proven to be rebuilding again. He will most likely sign a 2-3 year deal loaded with playing time incentives.
Quinton Carter is a name most people wont know. The 6'1" safety from Oklahoma has missed the majority of the last two seasons due to injury. Denver let him walk, which makes complete sense. He will most likely have to snag aas a last minute addition to someone's 90-man roster and pray for the best.
Quinten Demps is a primary kick returner. Do not expect him to compete for starting time with any team he signs with after being the 3rd safety to exit the Giants this offseason.
Brandon Meriweather missed the first 2 games of last season because of an illegal hit, which marked the 8th time he was hit with discipline from the league for such violations. While he has battled injuries his entire career, coupled with his inability to stay within the rules, he can prove to be an average player. If he were to sign more than a 1 year deal, it would be a surprise given his history.
BACK END DEPTH
With the loss of safety Da’Norris Searcy via free agency yesterday, the Buffalo Bills now have a hole in one the most important positions within the division. The safety position in the AFC East crucial to the success of a defense, figuring you are facing TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Charles Clay (*Update* Jordan Cameron), and TE Jace Amaro for a combined 6 games a year. It has become the one of the many responsibilities of a safety to have to account and cover the tight end position, an uphill battle considering a tight end will usually big significantly bigger than your average NFL safety. Even with as important as this position has become to the modern day defense, the average age of starting safeties is actually quite old.
Here is your Buffalo Bills Free Agency Survival Guide to what is still available on the market:
Antrel Rolle (32) - As of now, Chicago looks like the front runner for Rolle. His skills are anticipated to diminish and he has never been strong in run support. *Update* Signed by Chicago Bears
Mike Adams (33) - Even at 33 years old, Adams was one of the top safeties on the market. He should be returning to the Colts after the loss Sergio Brown to free agency *Updated* Signed by Colts
Louis Delmas (27) - Most people will forget about him. We are here to tell you that you shouldn’t. He signed a one year contract last season with Miami and was very solid for his 3.5 million salary. He tore his ACL in week 14, which means his return, reasonably, would be September at the earliest. He will not get a lot of action until teams can test his knee out. He is a sleeper. *Update* Signed by Miami
Nate Allen (27) - Having started for the Eagles since 2010, rumors are circulating that the Raiders will be making moves to sign him. He played over 1100 snaps last season and will make an impact for any team, especially the Raiders. This makes sense, seeing as though he was just exonerated from his recent legal troubles. Just google “Nate Allen 2015”. Go ahead. *Update* Signed by the Raiders
Dwight Lowery (29) - Lowery played for next to nothing in Atlanta last season. Prior to 2014, he missed 20 games in 2 seasons due to injury. He has a history of concussion problems but did play a full season. He is typically a solid coverage safety (although last year he did turn in less than spectacular numbers in coverage, but again, Atlanta was the worst pass rushing team in the league, so that does help). This is a guy Rex Ryan would love to get his hands on. *Update* Signed by Colts
Rahim Moore (25) - Given his age, Moore will have an active offseason. The Jets, Vikings, Raiders and Giants will all take a look at him. Coming from Denver, the major concern is Moore’s tackling and run support. He has turning in great numbers in coverage. Unless you are looking for a sole coverage safety, you may want to move past Moore, who will probably command a decent contract. *Update* Signed by Texans
The Best of the Rest:
Jaiquawn Jarrett (25) - While he is a restricted free agent with the Jets, the bills could offer him a contract which the Jets could choose to match or reject. If they reject, the Bills would gain Jarrett and give the Jets a third round selection. While Jarrett didn’t begin the year as the starter, he is a former second round pick who stepped up well in the Rex Ryan system. *Update* Remaining with Jets at the current time
Darian Stewart (26) - Another solid, yet unspectacular player. He notched over 50 tackles with Baltimore last year but has a history of nagging injuries. *Update*Signed with Broncos
Taylor Mays (27) - When you talk about size, speed and athleticism, Mays’ numbers jump out. The Vikings and Redskins are looking hard at Mays, but neither would likely be offering a starting job. It is hard to believe that playing 16 games with the Bengals and notching 9 tackles, a sack and a safety would be considered turning your career around but that is the line that is being sold on Mays. He has yet to incept a pass in 66 career games. Would he offer a team who is looking for a player to transition to a nickel linebacker a solid option? He has all the skills you could ever ask for, but, he needs a coach who understands his role and his limitations. *Update* Signed with Vikings
Ron Parker (27) - The amount of interest in Parker really a surprise. He did have 94 tackles last season, 1 sack and 1 interception. Just so everyone is aware, prior to 2014, Parker had notched 17 tackles, a sack, and 2 interceptions in 26 games with the Chiefs and Seahawks. *Update* Signed with Chiefs
Bernard Pollard (30) - Torn ACL last season will halt any early contributions. Really, this is not an option for the Bills given his age and recent injury history, but out of respect for his career, he has to be mentioned. *Update- Currently Unsigned*
Marcus Gilchrist (26) - Gilchrist is a versatile player who has the ability to play strong safety and even drop down to slot corner when needed. He wrangled 76 tackles for the Chargers last year. This was the 2 consecutive year with above 70 tackles. He doesn’t have wonderful ball skills which may be the reason he will not get long looks from the Bills. *Update* Signed by Jets